You Have No Idea How Much I Love You Review
I want to begin this review with a quote by writer Anita Diamant, “The more a daughter knows the details of her mother's life [...] the stronger the daughter.” This certainly applies to the Polish documentary You Have No Idea How Much I Love You (Nawet nie wiesz, jak bardzo cię kocham) directed by Paweł Łoziński. The dramatised documentary follows five therapy sessions, between estranged mother Ewa and her 23-year-old daughter Hanna, led by renowned Polish psychiatrist and psychotherapist Bogdan de Barbaro. On paper it may sound like a dull affair but what unfolds is a fascinating insight into the complexities of the parent/child relationship and how our upbringing forms our adulthood. It’s a stirring film which gives an indication of what occurs behind the closed door of a psychotherapist's office.
As someone who has been through therapy herself and has a similar relationship to Ewa and Hanna's with my own mother, I was a little wary about watching this unsure what my response would be. It can be painful discussing certain events in your life, but in order for some wounds to heal you have to open them up and allow them to breathe. Some continue to have a slightly old-fashioned opinion to therapy and there can be a negative stigma attached to the concept but in Łoziński‘s capable hands, he seeks to change that perspective with regards to taking up professional help.
The set-up is fairly straightforward. Filmed in one room, the camera shoots in close-up and cuts between mother and daughter, the director and camera focusses on one of the three present at any one time - simple yes, but very powerful and intrusive, providing insight via their facial expressions, as they reveal their inner conflicts, and feelings before cutting to the next person. The tight framing adds to the confrontation. The editing is uncomplicated - fading to black after the end of each session - and it's this repetition that forces the audience to really focus on the individuals recall their experiences and come to terms with their relationship.
The role of the therapist in these sessions is to act as mediator, and the mother and daughter are encouraged not to talk directly to each other but rather use de Barbaro. He is firm but gentle in his approach, offers himself during the first session as the necessary ‘third’, and tries to relieve the tension that has built up between the two. Not only do you empathise with both patients but de Barbaro as well who has to continue being the voice of reason and has the responsibility to keep control of the situation especially when things get heated.
Although the real Ewa and Hanna aren’t related, the film is based on actual sessions with the actresses drawing on their own experiences, as they improvise and convince us as mother and daughter. They express such raw emotion as they give their recounts of the events that led to the sessions that is incredibly moving. It seems that Łoziński is fascinated by the subjects of memory, well being and mental recovery as his 2013 film entitled Father and Son in 2013, centred around an extended conversation with his own father about painful past events while they are stuck together in a camper van travelling throughout Europe.
You Have No Idea How Much I Love You, will leave you feeling less alone in the world, and it certainly left me feeling somewhat reassured by the fact that there are others who share a similar experience to your own. By the end of the film, I felt relief like I had somehow managed to face my own inner demons such is the power of this film, its subject matter and these women's catharsis. It was a hard watch but I haven’t felt this moved and connected to a story in a long time.